Simpson County Baptist Association
Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Early Years

Glimpses of the Past

The Early Days of  Simpson Baptist Association 

The following Historic Information has been taken directly from the book: "Simpson County Baptist Association” (Formerly Strong River) by J. L. Boyd.

 

Born in Pike county June 23, 1881; baptized into the fellowship of Old Carter’s Creek Church (where the first meeting of the Mississippi Baptist Convention was held) at the age of 13 year; attended Mississippi
College and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, receiving the B.S. degree from the former and the Th.M. from the later; ordained by the Crescent hill Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., April 12,1912; pastor of the Coldwater Church, Galilee church of Gloster, First Church of Biloxi, and the Magee church at the time of writing this history; served two years in world war I as chaplain (nine months in France) ; Clerk of this association six terms; author of “History of Magee,” and “A History of Strong River Baptist Church.”


 

ABSTRACT HISTORY OF  Simpson Baptist Association

(Originally Strong River) 1853-1927 

The Strong River Baptist Association, the term we shall use in referring to the body until her name was changed in 1920, was organized of churches from the Peal River Association which in turn was organized of churches from the Mississippi Baptist Asso­ciation. The Mississippi was the mother of Baptist Associations in the State, being the first to be organized in 1806, whose activities were confined to the southwestern section of the State. The Pearl River was organized in 1820, and had a vigorous growth through the years, covering a territory, in 1853, embraced in the present counties of Pike, Lawrence, Marion, WaIthall, Jeff Davis, Covington, Simp­son, Copiah, and Rankin. Due to the poor facilities for travel in those early days and the condition of the. roads, it is evident that much time was required for the delegates to attend the sessions of the Association. Therefore, as Associational bodies reached out and enrolled other churches from time to time the necessity was pressed upon them to permit groups of churches to withdraw upon presenting petitionary letters for dismission to organize other As­sociations for the sake of convenience. Such was the case here. There was no necessity for separation on account of doctrinal dif­ferences or internal strife. Hence, there was a convention called of messengers from churches in the northern district of the Pearl River Association, which convened with the Hebron church, Law­rence county, on July 30, 1853.

THE STRONG RIVER CONVENTION

At the appointed time, July 30, 1853, the messengers from the following churches assembled at the Hebron church to consider the advisability of organizing a new Association, viz: Bethlehem, Simp­son county; Dry Creek, Rankin county; Hebron, Lawrence county; Harmony, Lawrence county; Mt. Zion, Simpson county; Mountain Creek, Rankin county; Macedonia, Simpson county; New Zion, Simp­son county; Pleasant Hill, Simpson county; Strong River, Simpson county; Steen’s Creek, Rankin county; Sardis, Copiah county; and Zion Hill, Rankin county. Cader Price of Brandon, Rankin county, was elected chairman of the meeting, and L. B. Walker of Westville, Simpson county, sec­retary. After a brief statement from the chairman as to the object and purposes of the Convention, it was resolved that the Convention ascertain which messengers present had come instructed to vote in favor of a new Association.  All present voted in favor except those from Hebron, Harmony and Mt. Zion. It was further resolved by the Convention that the messengers from the churches favoring such a move should meet again on Saturday before the Second Lord’s Day in October of the same year at Palestine church, Simp­son county, for the purpose of organizing a new Association. S. B. Mullen, who was not present at the Convention, was invited to de­liver an introductory address to the body at the October meeting. A committee of four, consisting of James Murray, Isaac Bush, Lewis Howell, and Styron Brinson, was appointed to draft Articles of Faith and Rules of Decorum for the government of the Association, James Murray and Cader Price were appointed to ask the Pearl River Association for assistance. The Convention adjourned to meet at the Palestine church on date above mentioned.

ORGANIZATION OF THE STRONG RIVER ASSOCIATION 1853

Pursuant to previous adjournment the Convention met with the Palestine church. Simpson county, Miss., on October 8, 1853, and formed a temporary organization by electing S. B. Mullen, chairman, and L. B. Walker, secretary. The following churches were represented by delegates as named:

 

CHURCH              COUNTY                            DELEGATES

 

Bethlehem         Simpson                       Jesse Deer, W. B. Chandler

Copiah               Copiah                         H. Guynes, Sr., A. J. Harrison

Dry Creek          .Rankin                         Cader Price, E. Runnells
 

Hopewell            Copiah                         R. Sojourner, J. W. Young

Hebron             Lawrence                       E. Owen, B. Buckley
 

Mt. Zion           Simpson                          W. T. Brown, L. B. Walker

Mountain Hill      Simpson                         A. Cook, T. M. Thames

 

Macedonia        Simpson                          L. Howell, E. Bishop

 

Galilee             Copiah                             G. H. Barrett, G. W. Hamilton

 

Mountain Creek  Rankin                             E. B. Traylor, A. J. Brinson

 

New Zion         Simpson                            John Guynes, Robert Mahaffey

 

Palestine         Simpsón                            James Murray, R. D. Middleton

 

Pleasant Hill     Simpson                            Isaac Bush, B. Bridges

 

Steen’s Creek  Rankin                               E. E. Steen, Isom Smith

 

Strong River    Simpson                             W. Toler, David Bishop

 

Sardis            Copiah                               S. B. Mullen, Alexander Murray

 

Zion Hill          Rankin                               J. L. Chandler, R. H. C. Dent

Immediately upon calling the roll of the delegates, the Conven­tion organized into an Association by electing officers as follows: S.      B. Mullen, moderator; L. B. Walker, clerk; and Wm. T. Sandifer, treasurer. The Articles of Faith and Rules of Decorum of the Pearl River Association were adopted for the government of the body. Mountain Hill church, Simpson county, was received by letter.
 

The organization was named “The Strong River Baptist Asso­ciation,” and consisted of seventeen churches with a membership of 569 white members and 104 colored. There was sent up from the churches $58.70 for missionary purposes, and on Sunday of the first session a collection was taken for missions which amounted to $38.40. A Missionary Board was chosen of twelve brethren, namely: E.   Barron, M. Murray, J. Deer, W. B. Chandler, Isom Smith, E. E. Steen, R. D. Middleton, J. W. Sandifer, E. B. Traylor, S. Brinson, Geo. Guynes, and John Guynes. This Board was invested with the power to superintend all the missionary business of the Association. Correspondence with sister Associations was arranged, and $1.50 per day was voted to pay the expenses of each delegate to other fraternal bodies while engaged in such service. It is noticeable that not a single church reported a Sunday school at the time of the organization, and that the mission money was to be used for the propagation of the Gospel within the bounds of the Association. Yet, it must also be favorably noted that James Murray was appointed to preach the missionary sermon at the next session of the Association, with S. B. Mullen as alternate. This was starting right, and the custom was kept up for a long time. The time of the annual meetings was fixed as commencing Saturday before the 2nd Lord’s day in October each year. The territory of the Association was divided into three districts. No. 1 to consist of all north of Strong River and east of the Pearl; No. 2, all south of Strong River and east of the Pearl; and No. 3, all west of Pearl River. Fifth Sunday meetings were arranged to be held in these districts alter­nately throughout the year. The annual meetings of the Association were to be held in these districts in succession, the churches in each district to decide at which church it should be held. Statistical. Churches reporting, 17; total membership, 569 whites and 104 colored, or 673; amount sent up for Associational purposes, $72.50; for missionary purposes, $58.70; collection taken at Association, $38.60; or total of $169.60.

Second annual session was held with the Dry Creek church, Rankin county, October 7-9, 1854, and organization effected by the election of S. B. Mullen, moderator; E. E. Steen, clerk; and Robert Bridges, treasurer. Annual sermon preached by Cader Price on Acts 21:14. James Murray preached the Missionary sermon and a collection taken to the amount of $23.85 for Home Missions, and $36.00 for Indian Missions. An interesting report was read at this session of the Association on “Indian Missions,” and a few extracts will not be out of place here: “We consider the Indian Mission of paramount importance to any before the American people; and from the following consid­erations, claims our sympathies, our prayers, and our contributions, viz.: We occupy their former country; we have our wealth from the soil once owned by them; and, by treaty and purchase, we have possessed it at a very low rate. 2nd. We are strongly under ob­ligations to the Indians because of their priority to us.

3rd. The Indian is literally begging us for the Gospel. 4th. They have no one else to look to for the Gospel. 5th. What we do we must do quick­ly, for they are declining, and soon will pass away, unless they are civilized—and nothing but the Gospel will civilize any heathen peo­ple.” Notice was taken of the fact that several young ministers in the Association needed to go to school, and a resolution was passed commending the proposition to the churches of raising a fund to sustain one or more such at college. The Association was called on to mourn the death of Rev. Isaac Muse who died Aug. 15, 1854, and a suitable obituary was read and spread on the minutes, with the following meager sketch of his life and labors: “The ministerial career of Rev. I. Muse was short, yet brilliant, having engaged in the gospel ministry about the year 1840, and departed this life the 15th day of August, 1854. His labors were principally confined to the Southern part of Mississippi, where they were greatly blessed of the Lord to the ingathering of many precious souls.”        Statistical Churches reporting, 18, with membership of 1,175, of whom 122  were colored; baptisms, 312; minutes requested, 640; amount sent up f Associational purposes, $103.45, for Missionary uses, $90.70; collections at Association, $32.85 for Home Missions, and $36.00 for Indian Missions, making a total of $254,00.

The third annual session was held at the Strong River church, Simpson county, October 13-15, 1855, the 14th being a Sunday. Organized by electing James Murray, Moderator; E. E. Steen, clerk; and Robert Bridges, treasurer. (The former moderator, S. B. Mul­len, was absent). The introductory sermon was preached by Wil­liam Toler from Jas. 2:26. Clear Creek church, Rankin county, new­ly constituted, was received into fellowship upon application, and also White Oak church, Smith county, was welcomed by letter of dismission from the Mt. Pisgah Association. Only five churches sent up missionary funds, while two sent a contribution for the school fund as recommended a year ago for young ministers. Every church sent funds for associational pur­poses ranging from $2.65 to $10.75. The time of meeting is changed from Saturday before the 2nd Sunday to Saturday before the 3rd Sunday in October. Statistical. Churches reporting, 20 (every one with letter and two messengers each); number of baptisms, 125; membership, 1,279, of whom 1,120 were white and 159 colored (three not reporting them separately); minutes requested, 615; moneys sent up: for association­al fund, $109.85; for missions, $20.95; for school fund, $11.95; col­lection taken on Sunday of the session, $40.25; total of $183.00.

The fourth annual session was held with the Hopewell church, Copiah county, on October 18-21. 1856. the 19th being a ‘Sun­day. Alexander Murray delivered the introductory sermon from Pet. 2:5. Election of officers resulted in the following: James Murray, moderator; E. E. Steen, clerk; and Robert Bridges, treasurer. Statistical. Churches reporting, 21, with baptisms; mem­bership, whites 970, colored, 173, a total of 1,451; minutes requested, 700; moneys sent up: for associational purposes, $113.75, domestic missions, $77.80, collection on Sunday, $40.00, making a total of $231.35.

The fifth annual session was held October 17-20, 1857, with the saints at Mt. Creek church, Rankin county. Officers re-elected as follows: James Murray, moderator; E. E. Steen, clerk; and Rob­ert Bridges, Treasurer. Introductory sermon preached by Cader Price from 2 Cor. 8:5. After “An able sermon to a large and at­tentive congregation” on Sunday preached by James Murray, a col­lection was taken for domestic missions to the amount of $43.35. Palestine reported a thriv­ing Sunday school, the first to be reported. Statistical. Churches reporting, 21, with 134 baptisms; mem­bership, of whites, 1,249. and 205 colored, or a total of 1,395; min­utes requested, 690; moneys sent up: associational fund, $139.35, domestic missions, $99.80, collected at association, $43.35, making a total of $282.50. The sixth annual session was held with the Hebron church, Lawrence county, September 25-27, 1858. The introductory sermon was preached by Joseph L. Chandler from Luke 24:26. Organiza­tion effected by the election of James Murray, moderator; Stiring Brinson, clerk; and Robert Bridges, treasurer. The missionary sermon was preached on the 26th, Sunday fore­noon, by Cader Price, after which a collection was taken amount­ing to $52.00 for domestic missions. Statistical Churches reporting, 20 (White Oak had no delega­tion or letter), with 127 baptisms; membership, 1,355 whites, and 219 blacks, or a total of 1,599; minutes asked for, 688; moneys sent up: for associational fund, $118.50, for missionary fund, $118.65, collection on Sunday of Association, $53.00, or a total of $289.15.

The seventh anniversary found the delegation assembling at the Copiah church, Copiah county, on October 8-10, 1859. The in­troductory sermon preached by Alexander Murray from Amos 3:3. All the officers of previous year were re-elected. New churches asking for admission were: Oak Grove and Gum Springs, of Simpson county, Crooked Creek of Lawrence county, and Polkville of Smith county, whose credentials were examined and found to be orthodox and orderly. The churches were received, del­egates recognized by the moderator with the right hand of fellow­ship, and invited to seats in the body. On Sunday a missionary discourse was delivered by James Mur­ray, from Ps. 119:30. A collection was taken for domestic missions which resulted in $18.45 for the General Association, and $6.25 for Strong River Association. This year was begun the custom of appointing an auditing com­mittee to examine the treasurer’s report annually, which committee usually reported as follows: “We have examined the treasurer’s report, and find it correct and amply sustained by vouchers.” The executive board made report that little had been done by their missionary, A. Murray, owing to bad health. Macedonia church, Simpson county, had dissolved since the last annual Association, and only one Sunday school reported, and that by the Palestine church. Statistical. Churches reporting, 24, and 116 baptisms; member­ship, whites 1,169. blacks, 220. a total of 1,550; minutes requested, 717: moneys sent up: for associational fund, $137.25, for missions, $29.90, for widow and orphan fund, $8.50, collection on Sunday, 34.70, special for Elder E. L. Carter, $36.05, or a total of $256.40.

The eighth annual session was held with the Antioch church, Rankin county, on October 13-15, 1860, when M. T. Conn preach­ed the introductory sermon from Titus 3:1, “Be ready to every good work.” The Cato church, Rankin county, was received with the fifth rule of decorum dispensed with, and her delegates given the right hand of fellowship by the moderator.

Organization was effected by the election of the officers of preceding session. In the future the clerk was to have the duty of writing the letter of correspondence, and the committee for such was dispensed with. On Sunday two sermons were preached, the one in the forenoon being a missionary sermon, by James Newman from Rev. 6:2, after which a collection was taken up to the amount of $21.00. In the afternoon Wm. Denson preached on Malachi 3:14, followed by an exhortation by Wm. Fortenberry. Statistical. Churches reporting, 26, with 299 baptisms; mem­bership, whites 1,637, blacks, 258, or total of 1,895; minutes requested, 850; moneys sent up: for associational fund, $138.85, missions, $74.80, widow and orphan fund, $35.65, collection on Sunday of Association, $21.00; collected by Bro. Wm. Toler, $22.40, or total of $292.70.

The hosts met at the Mt. Zion church, Simpson county, in the ninth annual session on September 14-16, 1861, the 15th being a Sunday. R. D. Middleton preached the introductory sermon from Luke 7:35, “But wisdom is justified of all her children.” The County Line church of Copiah county, was received with letter of dismis­sion from the Central Association. Officers were elected by ballot with the following result: Cader Price, moderator; S. Brinson, clerk; and B. Bridges, treasurer. Cor­respondence was dropped with the State Convention and the Southern Baptist Sunday School Union. On motion, the missionary enterprise and executive board of the Association were suspended. A resolu­tion was passed to take up offerings for the purpose of printing Testaments for the soldiers in the army. On Sunday the missionary discourse was delivered by S. J. Hitt, from Gal. 6:10, after which a collection was taken up for the pur­pose of printing Testaments for the army to the amount of $29.15. Statistics. Churches reporting, 27, with only 79 baptisms; mem­bership of 2,117, of whom 261 were blacks; two half-time churches this time, viz: Hopewell and Palestine; minutes requested, 715; money sent up: for associational purposes, $123.00, for missions, $5.65, (from only two churches), collection on Sunday, $21.00, mak­ing a total of $149.65 for all purposes.

The tenth annual session was held with the Hopewell church, Copiah county, on September 20-22, 1862, the 21st being a Sunday. Both the appointee and alternate for the introductory sermon being absent R. D. Middleton preached from Heb. 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling yourselves together.” All the officers of the preceding session were re-elected. On motion, a former resolution passed instructing the treasurer not to take any money except gold was rescinded and that such as then current was to be accepted. Pilgrim’s Rest church, recently con­stituted, was received on petition. Under unfinished business, clerk made statement that an amount collected at the previous session of $36.50 and sent to Elder Aaron Jones, Jr., Jackson, Miss., for the purpose of printing Testaments for the soldiers had not been accounted for, neither were the Testa­ments forthcoming. He was instructed to enquire after it, and make report at the next session. On Sunday two sermons were preached by Cader Price and E. R. Freeman. Elder Cader Price’s being the missionary discourse from 1 Cor. 9:14, after which a collection was taken to the amount of $114.60 for the purpose of supplying the 6th and 39th Regiments, Mississippi Volunteers, with preaching. Steen’s Creek church also sent up $15.00 for this purpose. Upon resolution Cader Price was sent to the 6th Regiment, and J. L. Chandler to the 39th, the funds to be divided equally and they to stay as long as funds would jus­tify, and report a year hence.  

RESUME OF FIRST DECADE (1853-1862)

 

Number of churches increased from 17 to 28. Membership increased from 673 to 2,117. Membership of colored increased from 104 to 261. Total moneys contributed to all purposes (not including pastors’ salaries) $2,469.35. Pastors’ salaries and other local expenses never reported in let­ters to Association. Only two Sunday schools during the decade; in the Palestine and presumably Hopewell church. Harmony has prevailed among the brotherhood. There was an apparent indecision as to whether the Association would affiliate with the State Convention or the General Associa­tion, a compromise was being effected by keeping up friendly cor­respondence with both bodies. Apparently the field of her missionary endeavor was limited to Southeast Mississippi, principally in the Leaf River valley. Two of their leading brethren passed to their reward, namely: Elders S. B. Mullen, and James Murray. S. B. Mullen was moderator for the first two years of the decade, and James Murray the six years following him. Progress was shown along every line, and the missionary interest increased till the war’s blight came on to detract from every other object and fasten their attention onto the needs of the soldiers in the fields and camps of the Civil War. At the end of the decade they are in the grip of troublesome times incident to this awful struggle.

The eleventh annual session was held at Steen’s Creek church, Rankin county, September 19-21, 1863. The introductory sermon was preached by 8. 3. Hitt from Numbers 13:30, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.” A very few corresponding messengers present this time, but 3. B. Hamberlin, missionary to the army from the Marion Board, Ala., was among the number, and largely influenced the activities of this whole session. Re-elected former officers, viz: Cader Price, moderator; S. Brinson, clerk; and R. Bridges, treasurer.

On Sunday M. T. Conn, by appointment, preached the mission­ary discourse in the forenoon from Gen. 1:3, “And God said let there be light, and there was light.” A collection was taken for missionary work in the army amounting to $194.60. In the afternoon J. B. Chamberlin preached from Matt. 28:18, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,”

The twelfth annual session was held at Crooked Creek church, Lawrence county, on September 17-19, 1864, when J. F. Johnson preached the introductory sermon from Acts 10:34-35, on subject, “God no respector of persons.” The minutes of this year contain a list of the soldiers who held membership in the churches having been killed in battle and died of disease. The list has many familiar names. Twenty had been killed in battle and 56 had died of disease. It was resolved, “That while we can but deplore our irreparable losses, and bow with submission to our lot, we feel it incumbent upon us to pray with renewed earnestness that the Lord would speedily interpose His Omnipotent Power in our favor and terminate the war so that we, as an independent people, might enjoy the bless­ings of peace throughout our Confederacy. Resolved, further, that we tender our heartfelt sympathies and prayers to surviving rela­tives and friends of our deceased and wounded brethren.” The clerk was to receive $75.00 (Confederate money) for his services. Statistical. Churches reporting, 24 (four not represented) with 320 baptisms; membership, 1,850, of whom 343 were colored; minutes requested, 500; number of Sunday schools, 3; money sent up: for associational fund, $615.39; collection on Sunday, $255.00, making a total of $870.39.

The thirteenth annual session was held with the County Line church, Copiah county, on September 16-18. 1865, when M. T. Conn preached the introductory sermon from Isa. 62:10, “Lift up a standard for the people.” Then there was intermission of 20 minutes. All the former officers were elected by acclamation. The Cana church, Rankin county, newly constituted, was received and dele­gates given right hand of fellowship by the moderator. On the Lord’s day two sermons were preached, followed by ex­hortation. The two brethren who preached are new to us so far, viz: W. W. Cone in the forenoon from Matt. 28:18 to 20th verses, and subject, “Characteristics of an original apostolic church.” In the afternoon Jesse Woodall preached from I Cor. 13:12, theme, “Heavenly knowledge.” Cader Price followed with an impressive exhortation and prayer. Much feeling was manifested in the close of the service. “Many tears were shed, and we trust that the fruits of this day’s labors may be realized many days hence.”

The treasurer’s report is interesting. There was a balance of $488.79, consisting of $60.00 in gold; $34.00 in Cotton money; $10.00 in State money; $3.50 in Railroad money; and $381.29 in Confederate money. Statistical. Churches reporting 26 (3 not represented), with 249 baptisms; membership, 2,070; money sent up: for associational fund, $174.50. No offering taken up on Lord’s day. The hosts gathered with the saints at Bethlehem church, Simp­son county, in their fourteenth annual session, on September 15-17, 1866. Thomas Price preached the introductory sermon from Titus 2:14, “Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.” All former officers were re-elected by acclamation. On Sunday forenoon D. Giddens preached a missionary sermon from Luke 19:10, after which a collection was taken up to amount of $42.30. In the afternoon Theophilus Green preached on Rev. 6:17.

 

A series of resolutions were introduced by G. W. Williams, a layman from the Strong River church, pertaining to the freedmen that it will be well to quote here: “Whereas, the Strong River Baptist Association, seeing the des­titute condition of the freedmen, with regard to the teaching of the Gospel; and feeling it their duty to aid and assist them, therefore, “Resolved, That this Association recommend the churches com­posing their body that they set aside one Sabbath in each month at their respective churches for the purpose of letting the freedmen organize a church if they desire it; under the supervision of the pastor (or whom they may call) and deacons of said churches. “Be it further resolved, That our ministers within the bounds of our Association are requested to act as missionaries in this mat­ter, and report the time they have been occupied in said service, also the churches organized, members baptized, and a full account of all their respective labors, to our next annual meeting. “Be it further resolved, That the said freedmen’s church may be represented in our Association by proxy, viz: by any of our ministers or brethren in good standing in this Association. “And, resolved further, That the Strong River Baptist Associa­tion was organized under the government of white persons only, and not of negroes, and that they have the clear and inalienable right to forever exclude the sons of Ham from seats as delegates from churches in this body.” Statistical. Churches reporting, 28 (one with no representa­tion), with 211 baptisms; membership of 2,468, of whom 316 were blacks; 659 minutes requested; money sent up: for associational purposes. $226.75: collection on Sunday. $42.30. or total of $269.05. 

The fifteenth annual session was held with the Mountain Hill church, Simpson county, on September 14-16, 1867, when the intro­ductory sermon was preached by R. D. Middleton from Acts 4:11, “This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” The former moderator, M. T. Conn, being absent, Cader Price was elected by acclamation to­gether with the other officers, viz: S. Brinson, clerk; and R. Bridges, treasurer. The Monterey church, Rankin county, was received by let­ter and being found orthodox and orderly, her delegates were recog­nized. Upon a call for report of ministerial labors with the freedmen, eight of the brethren made reports, stating that 64 days labor had been done, one church bad been organized, thirty-two had been bap­tized, one received by letter, and $6.35 had been collected from them.

The sixteenth annual session was held with the Galilee church, Copiah county, on September 19-21, 1868, when the introductory sermon was preached by Daniel Geddens from Rom. 8:38-39, “Noth­ing able to separate us from the love of Christ.” Statistical. Number of churches, 30, but only 25 reporting; bap­tisms, 117: membership, 2.016, of whom 346 were colored; 626 copies of minutes requested; Hopewell goes back to one Sunday a month; money sent up: for associational purposes, $155.40; for ministerial fund, $4.25; collection on Sunday, $26.40, or a total of $186.05.

The seventeenth annual session was held with the Dry Creek church, Rankin county, on September 18-20, 1869. S. 3. Hitt preach­ed the introductory sermon from Micah 4:2, “For the law shall go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Statistical. Number of churches, 30, but only 28 reporting; baptisms, 308; total membership, 2,341, of whom 311 are colored; copies of minutes requested, 696; money sent up: for associational fund, $184.55; for superannuated ministers, $28.85; collection on Sunday, $34.80 for home missions and $57.20 for orphans’ home, making a total of $305.40.

The eighteenth annual session was held with the Strong River church, Simpson county, on September 17-19, 1870, when A. A. Rogers preached the introductory sermon from Dan. 2:44, “The ever­lasting kingdom of the God of Heaven.” Statistical. Churches listed, 31, and every one represented, with 243 baptisms reported; membership, 2,413; minutes requested, 790; money sent up: for associational fund, $303.69; for home missions, $18.00; for Cader Price, $45.00; for ministerial education, $150.00; collection on Sunday for home missions, $47.65; on Monday for Sister Cader Price, $21.95; or a total of $486.29.

(This session of the association was the most eventful, the most modern, with the most radical changes in its history.)

 

A RESUME OF THE SECOND DECADE

 

(1863-1872)

 

Number of churches increased from 28 to 31, many had been lettered out. Membership increased from 2,117, of whom 261 were blacks, to 2,413 with no blacks reported. Total monies contributed to all purposes (not including pastors’ salaries and other local expenses which were not reported to the Association to this date), $3,731.57. Five Sunday schools in bounds of Association reported, viz: Bethel reported two; County Line, one; Dry Creek, one; and Strong River, one. Harmony and peace prevailed throughout the decade among the brethren in their deliberations. The apparent indecision as to their affiliation with the General Association or the Baptist State Convention had been decisively set­tled in favor of the latter. The Civil War had disrupted all their missionary plans and work in the destitute sections of Southeast Mississippi. And the Associa­tion was slow in taking up this work after the close of the war. At the close of the decade, however, they were in closer touch with the State Board and the foreign mission board, Richmond, Va., and some of the churches were forwarding amounts annually to the foreign board. The emphasis in the contributions of money was shifted from that of the needs of the mission cause to that of an educated ministry, and for a few years practically all the money sent up that was not purely for associational purposes was turned toward the training of the younger preachers. Three of their leading spirits had been called home during the ten years, viz: Elder M. T. Conn who died Sept. 8, 1869, having served as moderator three years; Elder Daniel Giddens, who died Dec. 23, 1871, having served as moderator four years; and Elder Cader Price who died May 24, 1872, having served as moderator four years. A great change had taken place in these last ten years. At the beginning everything was in the throes of the Civil strife. After the strife was ended there came the back-wash and the ordeal of the Reconstruction days from ‘65 Eo ‘70 w’hen they were in the trough of the wave back to normalcy. Then was the spiritual tide low. Drunkenness and looseness of morals generally stood as spec­ters before the onward march of Christ’s spiritual kingdom. But in the year 1872 we find them on a high mountain of spiritual prog­ress with a forward look. Measures were passed and actions taken in that last session of the Association that were nothing less than revolutionary. They seemed to be breaking with the past, and a better day was beckoning them on. The twenty-first annual meeting was held with the Hebron church, Lawrence county, on September 20-22, 1873. Introductory ser­mon preached by W. H. Head from Eph. 4:6.

The thirty-third anniversary found the saints gathered with the church at Westville, Simpson county, on September 18-21, 1885, when the introductory sermon was preached by 3. E. Thigpen from Neb. 2:17-18. The White Sand church, Lawrence county, presented letter from the Pearl River and was received. The following officers were elected by acclamation: A. B. Guynes, moderator; Wayne Sut­ton, clerk; and A. T. Longino, treasurer. The association met this time on Friday afternoon, and con­tinued through Monday. Number of churches decreased from 34 to 29, by letter Number in membership decreased from 3,088 to 2,831. Number of baptisms for the ten years, 1,771. Sunday schools reported, 13; a decrease from 21 ten years ago. Money reported contributed for all purposes, $51,143.34. Spirit of unity and harmony prevailed among the brethren, yet there seemed a falling off in some phases of the work. The women’s work grew more in favor among the brethren; how­ever, a brother preacher was present and presided at each annual meeting. Prohibition sentiment deepened and broadened, the lines being drawn tighter each passing year. “the association suffered the loss by death of Elder R. D. Mid­dleton, but very little reference to it is made in the minutes.  

The forty-second annual session was held with the Hebron church, Lawrence county,. September 14-17, 1894, when H. K. Farmer preached the introductory sermon. Officers elected by ballot as fol­lows: 3. R. Johnston, moderator; Wayne Sutton, clerk; A. H. Dale, treasurer. Dry Creek church, Simpson county, petitioned for mem­bership and received. 3. C. Buckley elected delegate to the Southern Baptist Convention. On Monday, DY motion "all speeches were limited to 10 min­utes.” On motion by L. A. McCaskill, “That the clerk procure blank association letters and forward to church clerks to be used by them in making their annual reports to the association.” Minutes of Ladies’ Aid Society printed in minutes, showing that Hebron, Steen’s Creek and Stonewall were represented. Officers elected for following year: Sister Lola Johnston, vice-president; Sis­ter Charity Hutchins, secretary.

The forty-third annual session was held with the Braxton church, Simpson county, September 13-16, 1895, when J. R. Johnston preached the introductory sermon from Eph. 1:4-6. Officers of previous session re-elected. Delegate elected to the Southern Baptist convention, R. Drummond. On second day, J. H. Whitfield preached at school house at 11 a. m. and J. P. Culpepper at 2 p. m. while the association’s business was going on in the church house. A new report was read, discussed, and adopted at this session on “The Necessity of Vocal Music in Our Churches,” prepared by 3. W. Pickering. On motion of R. Drum­mond article 9 of Gospel order was adopted, which reads: “This association will not fellowship with any church which holds within her fellowship members known to be living in adultery, but will ex­pel all such churches as being guilty of gross and immoral conduct.” The proceedings of the Ladies’ Aid Society are printed in the minutes showing only two societies reporting, Hebron and Steen’s Creek. Sister 3. R. Carter was chosen vice-president, and Sister Fan­nie Shivers as secretary for the ensuing year.

Forty-fourth session was held with the Strong River church, Simpson county, on September 18-21, 1896, when the introductory sermon was preached by J. R. Carter from Ps. 11:30. The officers of previous session were elected. The forty-seventh session was held with the Liberty (Harris­vile) church, Simpson county, September 1-3, 1899, when 3. C. Buckley preached the associational sermon from Mark 14, “The An­nointing at Bethany.” The officers of previous session re-elected. Hickory Ridge Baptist church was admitted into the fellowship by letter. 

The forty-eighth session was held with the Mt. Zion church, on Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 1900, when the associational sermon was preached by C. E. Welch from John 4:27, “The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Only Hope of a Lost World.” Officers of previous session re-elected. Strong Hope church was granted letter of dis­mission upon request. On Saturday, second day, J. C. Farrar preached at the 11 o’clock hour.  

On Sunday, sessions began at 9 o’clock with the report on the orphanage, followed by those on sustentation, church discipline, womgn’s work, and Sunday schools and other business before the preaching hour. Preaching at 11 a. m. in the house by W. T. Lowrey, and at stand by A. V. Rowe. Sunday offerings: $21.10 for Mississippi college, and $15.65 for sustentation. Adjourned after morning exer­cises. No meeting of the Woman’s Missionary Society reported, but Hebron, Steen’s Creek and Stonewall have representatives.

 The forty-first annual session was held with the Mountain Creek church, Rankin county, Sept. 15-18, 1893 when H. F. Sproles preached the introductory sermon from John 14:17. Organized by electing officers as follows: Moderator, R. Drummond; clerk, Wayne Sutton; treasurer, A. H. Dale. It is noted in the apportionment report that Rial’s Creek church was omitted as “cyclone sufferers.” All surplus money ordered to be turned over to H. F. Sproles for the Baptist house of worship in Jack­son and mission rooms. On Saturday, second day, T. 3. Miley preached at 11 a. m.  

 A RESUME FOR FOURTH DECADE (1883-1892)

 The fiftieth annual session was held with the Galilee church, Copiah county, on October 3-5, 1902, when the associational ser­mon was preached by A. L. O’Briant from subject, “I Magnify Mine Office.” Organization was effected by re-election of R. Drummond as moderator; Wayne Sutton as clerk; and A. H. Dale as treasurer. Enon and Mendenhall churches presented letters, and were re­ceived into fellowship.  

On second day pending discussion of reports on sustentation and the orphanage, collections were taken up for each; $16.25 for the former, and $15.55 for the latter. A new report was read by 3. P. Hemby on “Education as Embraced in Our Graded Schools.”  Pilgrim’s Rest church, Copiah county, was given letter of dis­mission upon request. And the association adjourned Saturday aft­ernoon, as was the custom at this period. On Sunday preaching at 11 a. m. in the house by S. Morris, and at the stand by B. E. Tutton. At 2 p. m. in the house by 3. C. Farrar. Collection on Sunday amounted to $14.40.

 

RESUME FOR THE FIFTH DECADE

 

(1893-1902)

Number of churches increased from 29 to 33. Membership increased from 2,831 to 3,341. Number of baptisms for the 10 years, 1,940. Money reported contributed to all causes, $43,633.16. Unity and harmony prevailed among the brotherhood. There is beginning a withdrawal of the churches on the far borders of the association to join other bodies for convenience, but other churches are being organized within the bounds of the territory, particularly in Simpson county to take the places of those withdrawing. The contributions held on a even break for the whole period, until the last year when the amounts reported were nearly double any former year, and the baptisms were almost double. Something gave the work a new emphasis in the year, 1901 or 1902, presumably the coming of the G. & S. I. Railroad through this section.

The churches joining the association in this decade are as fol­lows: Dry Creek and Poplar Springs in 1894, D’Lo and Weathersby in 1901, Enon and Mendenhall in 1902. All in Simpson county. Richland in Rankin also joined in 1901. Letters of dismission granted to following: Rock Hill, Rankin county, 1896; White Sand, Lawrence county, 1896; Dry Creek, Simp­son county, 1896; Strong Hope, Copiah, 1900; Pilgrim’s Rest, Copiah, 1902. The church property valuation stood at around $12,305.00 at close of the period.

 The fifty-first annual session was held with the New Zion church, Simpson county, on September 18-20, 1903, when R. Drum­mond preached the associational sermon from Phil. 1:20. The read­ing of the letters was dispensed with for the first time in the his­tory of association; a digest committee being appointed. Officers of the previous session were re-elected. Va1ley Grove church, Simpson county, was received into fel­lowship. Pending the adoption of the report on sustentation, a col­lection of $17.65 was taken up for the purpose. Also a collection was taken up for a cow for the orphan’s home, amounting to $35.00. The association went on record as “heartily indorsing the action of our state prohibition mass-meeting recommending constitutional prohibition, and laws to enforce the same.” Under head of resolutions, we read the following: “This associa­tion will not fellowship any church that fails to pay her pastor after having agreed to pay for his services. We also think any preacher who accepts the pastorate of such a church will be considered in dis­order by this association.”
 

The fifty-second annual session was held with the Stonewall church, Simpson county, September 17-19, 1904.

Simpson The fifty-fourth annual session was held with the Magee church, simpsoni county, on September 18-19, 1906, when organization was effected by the election of officers as follows: A. L. O’Briant, mod­erator; T. M. Kelly, Clerk; A. G. Berry, treasurer. The associational sermon was preached by B. E. Tutton from Luke 1:78. The Good-water church, Simpson county, presented letter from Pearl Leaf Association and was received into fellowship.
An executive committee “to fill a long felt and neglected want, especially touching the question of “Fifth Sunday Mission Rallies” was appointed consisting of C. E. Welch, B. E. Tutton, and J. C. Buckley. The churches were grouped in four districts for the pur­pose of convenience of these rallies.
  

There is a table for the report of Woman’s Missionary Union, which includes this notation: “Just organized Sept. 14, 1907.” Five societies make report, viz: Braxton, Hickory Ridge, D’Lo, Magee and Mendenhall, stating that $514.74 had been contributed to all purposes during the year. Statistical. Churches listed, 27; baptisms, 258; membership, 3,187; money reported: for associational fund, $70.90; collection at association, $30.50; missions and benevolences, $1,419.04; local ex­penses, $10,500.29; or a total of $11,919.33.

The fifty-sixth annual session was held with the Mendenhall church on September 17-18. 1908. Statistical. Churches listed, 27; baptisms, 353; membership, 3,452; money reported: for associational fund, $69.55; collection at association, $16.39; missions and benevolences, $1,314.02; local ex­penses, $8,803.35; or a total of $10,117.37. (Magee reports a pastor’s home.)

The fifty-seventh annual session was held with the Bethlehem church September 16-18, 1909, when ‘C. E. Welch preached the intro­ductory sermon from John 4:25. The following were the officers elected: 3. C. Buckley, moderator; 3. F. Thames, clerk; A. G. Berry, basurer. Churches petitioning for membership and received were: Holly Grove, Mt. Creek, Pleasant Valley. The following W. M. U.’s reported: Braxton, D’Lo, Goodwater, Hickory Ridge, Magee, Mendenhall, Mt. Creek, Pearl Valley, Shivers and Stonewall. Magee and Mendenhall also report a Sunbeam Band each.
 

The fifty-eighth annual session was held with the Goodwater church September 16-18, 1910, when J. P. Williams preached the introductory sermon from 2 Cor. 8:23, “The Messengers, the Glory of God.” Officers of previous year were re-elected by acclamation. Corinth church presented letter, with messengers, and was received into fellowship. Pending the adoption of report on ministerial education, and at the appeal of S. B. Culpepper of Clarke Memorial College, a collec­tion was taken up amounting to $26.00, for the building of that insti­tution. The Poplar Springs church granted letter of dismission on re­quest. On motion of B. E. Tutton the reading of church letters will hereafter be dispensed with, and a digest of them to spread on a black board.

The sixty-third annual session was held with the Palestine Saints Oct. 6-7, 1915, when C. C. Jones preached the associational sermon from Rev. 3rd chapter, on “The Mission of the Church.” B. E. Tutton was elected moderator; B. D. Stroud, clerk; A. G. Berry, treasurer. T. B. Batton was selected to go to the Southern Baptist convention as delegate.

The sixty-fourth annual session was held with the Pleasant Hill church, Oct. 3-4, 1916, when T. J. Moore preached the associa­tional sermon, using Eph. 1:8-10 as text. J. C. Buckley was called back to the moderatorship; B. D. Stroud elected clerk and A. G. Berry, treasurer. J. C. Buckley was selected to go to the Southern Baptist Convention. Pending the adoption of report on orphanage, a collection was taken of $11.76, and pending the adoption of report on denomina­tional colleges, subscriptions were taken of individuals and churches to the amount of $26.75 per month for seven months for D. W. Bishop in Clarke Memorial College.There is a report on woman’s work, but no minutes of their meeting in the associational minutes. Mrs. Mary Little is president, and Mrs. W. F. Walker, secretary.

The sixty-fifth annual session was held with the New Liberty Church, (Star), Rankin county, October 2-3, 1917, when J. R. Johnston preached the introductory sermon from 2 Tim. 2:12. Offi­cers of previous session were re-elected. Space is given in this number of the associational minutes to the minutes of the Woman’s Missionary Union, meeting at same time. Not only are the proceedings printed, but reports of committees, digest of the reports of all the societies and their auxiliaries of the various churches, and the superintendent’s message. Ten full pages given to these items of the Woman’s Missionary Union. (Rather excessive). Mrs. J. H. Williams was elected as superintendent, and Mrs. W. F. Walker, secretary.

The sixty-sixth annual session was held with the Magee church, on October 1-2. 1918, when the following officers were elected: J.C. Buckley, moderator; R. C. Russell, clerk; W. F. Smith Sr., Treasurer. J. P. Williams preached the associational sermon from John 17:17. A vote of thanks was extended to A. G. Berry, the re­tiring treasurer “for his long, efficient, and faithful service.”

The sixty-ninth annual session was held with the D’Lo church, October 4-5. 1921, when C. W. Black preached the associational sermon from Gen. 3:7 and John 6:36, “Political and Religious Lib­erties.” Permanent organization was effected by the election of 3. P. Williams, moderator; A. S. Russell, clerk; W. F. Smith Sr., treas­urer. J. P. Williams was sent to the Southern Baptist Convention as delegate. Churches received into fellowship: Pine Grove, Beulah, Coat, Kennedy Springs. A new report is presented this time on “The Tithing Campaign,” there being an effort in the Southern Baptist Convention territory to enlist 500,000 tithers. In the report on the “liquor traf­fic,” we find the statement, “Since we have constitutional prohibi­tion, the main thing now is the enforcement of the law, especially the suppression of illicit distilling.” The report on Sunday school work was prepared and read by Mrs. W. F. Smith, Jr., (the only time a woman has prepared a regular report and read it before this body.)                                                        

 A RESUME OF SIXTH DECADE 

(1913-1922)

 

Number of churches increased to 37. Those received in the period were: Goshen, Poplar Springs and Dry Creek in 1920; Pine Grove, Beulah, Coat and Kennedy Springs in 1921; Everett, Rock Springs, Athens and New Hope in 1922. Those being dismissed by letter:Clear Branch, Pearl Valley and Mt. Creek in 1920. Total membership stood at end of the period, 4,898. Number of baptisms for the 10 years, 2,356. Money reported: for missions and benevolences, $39,192.27; for local expenses, $96,090.74; or a total of $135,283.01.

 

The Association changed its name in 1920 from Strong River to Simpson County Association.

The preachers entering the association during this period, and taking active part in the meetings: Zeno Wall, pastor at Magee; C.H.                Mize, pastor at Mendenhall; C. C. Jones, pastor at Mendenhall;Robert H. Russell, pastor at Magee; 3. R. Johnston, pastor at D’Lo;J.P. Williams, pastor at Mendenhall; S. W. Sproles, pastor at Magee;W.S. Landrum, pastor at D’Lo; T. J. Moore, pastor at Magee. Value of church property at close of period, $52,825.00.

The sixty-eighth annual session was held with the Corinth church on October 5-6. 1920, when W. S. Landrum preached the associa­tional sermon from the first chapter of the Acts. Subject, “The Bap­tists, and Their Unfinished Task.” The following churches came in by petitionary letters: Goshen, Poplar Springs and Dry Creek, all of Simpson county.

The fifty-fifth annual session was held with the D’Lo church, September 13-14. 1907. Besides the regular reports, there were two new ones, viz: “Lay­man’s Missionary Movement,” and “Spiritual Condition of the Churches.” The one on church discipline is missing, and has been for several years. Pending the adoption of report on orphanage, col­lection was taken to the amount of $30.50. During the consideration of the report on “The Liquor Traffic,” a strong resolution was passed instructing the clerk to convey to the state senator from this district and the representative from this county that “it is the de­sire of this association that they use every effort to bring about the enactment of statutory prohibition in Mississippi at the next session of said legislature.”

The seventy-second annual session was held with the Weathers-by church, on October 7-8. 1924, when 3. L. Boyd preached the associational sermon from Heb. 10:13, subject: “Jesus as a Cam­paigner.” Officers of previous session re-elected. A very heated discussion was had at this time on the report of committee on Christian education, the question of the teaching of evolution in our schools being then a very live question throughout the land.

The seventy-fifth annual session was held with the Strong River church and this being the 75th anniversary of the association. It was made a centennial session, with an appropriate program. At the earnest appeal of J. P. Williams, former moderator, he was not considered for the office on account of failing health, and the following officers were elected: Z. T. Sullivan, moderator; J. L. Boyd, clerk; W. F. Smith Sr., treasurer. A. J. Hughes was selected to go to the Southern Baptist Convention as delegate. At the appointed hour for the associational sermon, Z. T. Sulli­van yielded to R. B. Gunter, corresponding secretary of the state mis­sion board, who brought a very inspiring address on the subject: “Tomorrow,” from the text, Joshua 1:3. Missionary T. F. McRea from China delivered an address in the afternoon on the work in his field of labor. At the evening hour J. H. Lane, a former pastor of the Strong River church, preached to a crowded house. B. E. Massey, superin­tendent of the orphanage, was present the second day and spoke in the interest of the home, after which the association voted to assume responsibility of raising her share ($100.00) of an amount necessary to build an isolation ward at the home.

                                          

 
We hope you have found this material on the early days of (Strong River) Simpson Baptist Association fascinating as well as inspirational. Again we are indebted to J.L. Boyd form pastor of Magee church (FBC) and former Associational clerk for the research he did to make these records possible.